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By Bob Coleman
Editor, Coleman Movers and Shakers
Coleman Movers & Shakers — John Shen Accepts Coleman SBA 504 Lender of the Year Award
Coleman: Congratulations on being named Coleman SBA 504 Lender of the Year!
“I am flattered and honored. I know this award is one of the highest honors for the most accomplished leaders in the industry, and with so many companies playing significant roles in the business this past year it’s an honor to be recognized. Think about how many banks and non-bank lenders have been involved in the SBA 504 Loan program this past year – hundreds of them. It is just amazing. I really value Coleman’s acknowledgment of the superb track record of my company American Lending Center.
“American Lending Center is the only established SBA 504 first loan lender in the country that almost exclusively utilizes the EB-5 program to raise lending capital. Because of the requirements of the program, American Lending Center is thus more accountable, transparent, and makes stronger efforts to track and document job creation than other SBA 504 lenders. This is the biggest difference.”
Coleman: What would you think might be the most significant challenge for an SBA 504 Third Party Lender?
“Communication and synchronization with the Certified Development Company (CDC) and any other lenders involved. Every SBA 504 project that engages American Lending Center has at least two, often three, private lenders also working with the CDC. The processing and review of an SBA 504 loan application can be significantly more complicated than those of a typical commercial loan where only one single lender is involved. In the SBA 504 Program, all the players must work as a team to put the pieces together.”
Coleman: Why does American Lending Center focus on hospitality new construction projects?
“Construction is one of the most reliable and verifiable sources of job creation in the EB-5 business, and thus one of the most adopted EB-5 project types due to the generally consistent cash flow in building and staffing of hotels.”
Coleman: I know American Lending Center has a nationwide lending program for SBA 504; what would be your geographical restrictions, if any?
When the EB-5 Program is the funding source, the project location must qualify as a “Targeted Employment Area,” or TEA, defined by its unemployment rate or designated as such by the state. Other than that, there aren’t restrictions or preferred areas. American Lending Center is committed to investment in deserving businesses anywhere, including those in rural and other underserved areas, and will not simply focus on investment in developments in major urban areas. So far, the company has completed funding projects in 16 states.”
Coleman: What do you think about the growing trend of foreign direct investment in US small business lending?
“Foreign direct investment can continue to grow in this industry and fund more small business projects here in the US. I think current SBA policies will stay as supportive, if not more so, under the Trump administration. American Lending Center alone has provided over $175 million to American projects, recruited fully from EB-5 investors. Less stringent regulations could certainly allow even more non-conventional lending operations to play a bigger role in small business lending.”
Coleman: What motivates you and your team in small business lending in general?
“In this industry, every day we hear great stories of small business owners. They are just like you and me, but their passion for their businesses and their burning desire to succeed, in my estimation, keeps the engine of our economy running by creating needed jobs across the country. As of April 2017, American Lending Center and our parent company Regional Centers Holding Group had successfully funded over 60 Small Business Administration 504 projects with EB-5 funds, stimulating economic growth and job creation all over the country. The more you help those owners, the happier you are. Nothing feels better than seeing your borrower succeed in his business. That is the motivation.